Hundreds of tourists to be flown back from Gambia after Foreign Office warning

'The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high,' the Foreign Office says

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of British tourists are to be flown back from Gambia by Thomas Cook after the Foreign Office warned "the potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high" in the west African nation.  

The travel company said it would fly out a special assistance team to help UK holidaymakers leave the country and would operate additional flights from the capital Banjul. 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office urged Britons to avoid all but essential travel to the country

"The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice," it said, in an update to its travel advice.  

Thomas Cook said it would operate a programme of additional flights into Banjul airport "to bring the 985 UK customers we currently have on holiday in Gambia home, including four additional flights on Wednesday 18 January."

The company added: "In addition, we have approximately 2,500 flight-only customers in Gambia, whom we are contacting to offer the earliest possible flight availability for return to the UK. Our colleagues on the ground in Gambia will proactively contact all customers on holiday with us as soon as possible to prepare for return to the UK.”

The move comes after a 90-day state of emergency was declared by President Yayha Jammeh just two days before he was supposed to cede power.

He is refusing to step down despite international pressure and the threat by other West African nations of a military intervention. 

President-elect Adama Barrow, the man who ousted him in the December election, is vowing to take power later in the week, despite Mr Jammeh's refusal to leave.